Alex Massie

The liberty to believe anything - so long as you believe

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No religious test? No of course not. Who would dream that there could  - let alone should - be such a thing?

Oh, hang on. Here's Mark Levin at The Corner:

Now that Mitt Romney is giving a speech about faith, I'd like to hear speeches from all the candidates on faith. There seems to be general agreement here that a candidate's faith is relevant to how they may govern, so we should encourage the other candidates to do the same. I'd love to hear how Rudy's faith influences his decision-making (if indeed it does) — same with John McCain, Fred Thompson (although he has provided some indication), and so forth. And I'd like to know more about Mike Huckabee's religious beliefs as well. And as for the Democrats, it seems to me they want to have it both ways. On the one hand, they say religion ought not influence their governance (it's a private matter, separation of church and state, etc.). Yet, they can't wait to be seen in public at large religious gatherings where they invoke the name of God while talking about their policy agenda. I actually think Romney's on to something. And he might want to challenge the other candidates to be as forthcoming as he is.

No surprise that a) The Corner is besotted by Brother Mitt today and b) Andrew Stuttaford is the exception to this, bringing reason to the party and a proper English skepticism about this entire absurd spectacle:

Good heavens, Mark (so to speak), America is electing a president, not a bishop. If a candidate is making a big deal about how his or her faith is important to his or her political decision-making (you may remember that, as governor, Mike Huckabee appeared to think that he reported to God rather than the electorate) then it's relevant, otherwise it's not unless, I suppose, 'external' matters, like (as Romney has, effectively and rightly, conceded) the prejudice against Mormonism make it politically necessary. More than that, a candidate's faith, or lack thereof, ought to be a private matter and it should be kept private, if only to spare television viewers an endless series of sacharine and largely meaningless displays of public piety. We have enough of those already.

Quite so.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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